the most dangerous two weeks in history

by Leslie Hossack

Main Dining Room, Level 200, The Diefenbunker, Ottawa 2010

© Leslie Hossack

The Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 has been called the most dangerous two weeks in history. For detailed information about this event, please visit Thirteen Days in October. The year 1962 marked the height of the Cold War.

A year before, in December 1961, Canada’s Central Emergency Government Headquarters, aka the Diefenbunker, became operational. During the Cold War, in the event of a nuclear attack, designated government officials would report to Canada’s flagship bunker in Carp. It contained over 300 rooms and was designed to shelter 535 individuals. Built secretly between 1959 and 1961 just outside of Ottawa, the Diefenbunker was nicknamed after Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker.

The photograph above shows the main dining room. Located three levels down in the four-story bunker, it could accommodate up to 200 people at a time. The furniture seen here, none of which is original to the bunker, is typical of the mid 1980s. Just out of view is the main lounge with pool tables and other recreational activities. There is also a canteen in this area.

The Diefenbunker was shut down in 1994, after 33 years of operation. It is now Canada’s Cold War Museum and a National Historic Site. For more information, please visit Canada’s Cold War Museum and Parks Canada.

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